“Explore Fairfield County” is an informational series that provides a glimpse into the wonderful towns and cities in Fairfield County. Fairfield County is diverse, including big cities, small suburbs, beaches, farms, and busy highways. It covers a large geographic area and, because of this, it has a lot to offer families! To help you get the most out of Fairfield County, our contributors have shared the top things they love about each local area. To read more in this series, click here.
Danbury is ranked the fourth most diverse small city in the United States. It is packed with shopping, restaurants, an active downtown, and many annual cultural events, yet it is filled with natural park spaces and home to the shores of Candlewood Lake. Many newcomers are drawn to its convenient New York, Stamford, or Norwalk area commute. It is home to Western Connecticut State University’s two downtown campuses.
Whether you prefer sprawling suburbs, lakeside communities, or city living, Danbury has you covered.
The Great Outdoors
Danbury has several parks and recreational facilities that give way to many possibilities! The city has 1644 acres of open space! There are many opportunities to get outside in this city – a public golf course, hiking trails, two dog parks, Candlewood Lake, sports fields, parks, playgrounds, and three splash pads. Our family’s favorites are Rogers Park Playground, Kenosia Park splash pad, and hiking in Tarrywile Park.
Richter Park is a 230-acre park with an 18-hole golf course and pro shop, marked hiking trails, tennis courts, winter recreation, the Richter Arts Association center, outdoor summer theater, and Cafe on the Green Restaurant, which offers fine dining and patio seating with a grill area.
Candlewood Town Park borders the shores of Candlewood Lake. The park offers benches, picnic tables, a concession stand, playgrounds, a beach, swimming, and a boating dock. Season and day passes are available through the city of Danbury.
Things to Do
Danbury Public Library is located in beautiful downtown Danbury. My children and I have enjoyed many weekly story times, library events, and exploring their children’s section, which is HUGE and recently remodeled. The library has added a Sensory Space equipped with various furniture and items that provide visual, tactile, auditory, and proprioceptive stimuli. The purpose of the space is to provide an environment that offers the opportunity to manage stress and anxiety, work through emotions, explore the senses, and improve focus.
Danbury Railway Museum is a fun place to visit with your little engineers. The museum offers exhibits, operated train rides, birthday parties, and special holiday events such as a pumpkin patch train ride with Santa or the Easter bunny.
Danbury Ice Arena offers programs for all ages and abilities, including Public Skate, Learn to Skate, Learn to Play Hockey, leagues, camps, and clinics. They are home to the Federal Hockey League Eastern Division champions, the Danbury Hattricks. The arena has been fully renovated with amenities like a new café and bar, serving craft beer, RTD cocktails, and coffee. Their hours of operation fluctuate, and reservations for public skating are required.
Ives Concert Park is a prestigious, world-class performing arts center. This outdoor amphitheater is on 40 wooded acres with a pond, gardens, and public hiking trails and is located on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University. Ives hosts a variety of world-renowned international, national, regional, and local artists and is a truly unique art experience in harmony with a natural environment, where trees and stars become the backdrop for cultural enrichment.
Musicals at Richter is the longest-running outdoor theater in Connecticut. The 2023 schedule will offer The Addams Family and The Music Man.
Jumpz Indoor Trampoline Park is taking reservations for jumping, laser tag, and arcade. Mini birthday party packages are also available. Next door to Jumpz is Thrillz Adrenaline Park, which offers axe throwing, laser tag, gyro tumbling, and an arcade.
Xtreme Play offers nine attractions, a full arcade, and a café serving food, treats, and drinks. Rock wall, laser tag, bumper cars, ropes course, laser tag, mini bowling, and obstacle courses are some of our favorite things to do at Xtreme Play. Xtreme Play hosts birthday parties and group events.
Danbury Duckpin Lanes have been entertaining residents for 40 years. Located in Hatters Park, this is a perfect activity for a rainy day. The smaller balls used in duckpin bowling are perfect for little hands. Lane rentals are available on weekends by the hour, and the facility also hosts parties.
The Danbury Athletic Youth Organization (DAYO) is a Non-Profit organization committed to promoting organized youth sports and building character in the youth of the Danbury area. Over 1400 children in the Danbury area participate in DAYO programs run by volunteers.
Danbury Police Activities League is a non-profit organization that provides seasonal community programs for youth activities and sports.
Danbury Youth Soccer Club provides recreational, travel, and premier leagues for Danbury youth.
I can’t write about Danbury without sharing our incredible dance studio, Danbury Dynamic Dance & Fitness. They offer special dance classes for toddlers, children, teens, and adults, and we are so thankful to be part of the DDF dance family.
Shop Small or Big
Danbury is home to so many big retailers, and I am lucky to choose between (or go to both) a Whole Foods AND a Trader Joe’s in my town.
Halas Farm is a fully functioning family farm with deep roots in the community. You can shop at Halas for almost anything; fresh fruit, veggies, pasta, dairy (Arethusa), baked goods, gardening and landscaping, flowers and plants for your garden, seasonal décor, and a wonderful selection of gifts and home décor. Need a gift? They make gorgeous gift baskets for any occasion.
The Danbury Farmers Market opens June 24 and runs through October 28. Located on Danbury Green, we enjoy picking out fresh fruits, veggies, and baked goods and shopping local vendors.
Pink Lemon is owned and operated by a local Danbury mom. The store has the latest fashion trends available, accessories, and fun gifts.
The Danbury Fair Mall was built on the grounds of the Great Danbury State Fair, which ran in some capacity from 1821 until 1981. A carnival still runs in its parking lot each summer. There is a carousel in the food court, echoing the fairground site the mall was built on.
The mall deserves a category of its own. It is home to just about any retail store you would need, and if you can’t find what you are looking for there, you can go to a neighboring shopping center, Danbury Square, or the Shoppes at Marcus Dairy.
The mall was once my favorite place in the colder months to push my babies around in their strollers and get some much-needed time outside my house. As my children grew, it became a destination for a special day together. A day out at the mall included morning playtime at Kids Klub, lunch, browsing the Lego store, and a carousel ride to end the day.
I could write a post or perhaps an encyclopedia on the restaurants in Danbury. There are too many to choose from – fast food, fast-casual, chain restaurants, upscale dining, diverse cultural choices, steakhouses, and BBQ. I’m a local and still have a bucket list of places to visit. I will leave you with a small-ish list of favorites:
Diner: Holiday Diner was recently remodeled, a favorite for classic diner food and delicious milkshakes. Follow them on social media for their famous shake of the month announcements.
Il Bacio means “the kiss,” and when you walk inside this homemade ice cream store, the walls are covered in family pictures and sweet real-life pictures of couples kissing. The ice cream is delicious, and the store is dangerously close to my house. I love popping in and grabbing quarts of our favorites to have at home. Il Bacio is open from March to November.
Dubl Twister is a family-owned and operated homemade ice cream shop. They have many fun flavors and are located near the WestConn campus.
Grounds Donuts House is an artisanal donut and coffee shop. They mix classic flavors and new fun favorites. They are loved by kids and adults alike!
Don’t let the name Mothership Bakery fool you. It is so much more than baked goods! Breakfast, lunch, baked goods, and organic coffee and tea are all served for sit-down or takeout.
Stew Leonard’s is a local favorite for grabbing a quick ice cream treat, a prepared meal, my weekly grocery shopping, or attending a kid’s event. Okay, you can do just about anything at Stew Leonard’s, but I have included it in sweet treats because it is still one of my favorite classic soft serves.
Are you looking for a close getaway? Hotel Zero Degrees is an upscale boutique hotel perfect for a close night away. The hotel hosts meetings and events and is home to Terra, one of my favorite restaurants.
Whether you are visiting for the day or the night or plan on making Danbury your home, there are many options to keep you busy in this exciting city. I hope you get the chance to explore Danbury soon!
Have you visited Danbury? Do you live here? What do you love about it?
Read all the posts in our Explore Fairfield County Series by clicking here.
Real estate is a powerful thing. Where you live becomes the center of your world and a place where precious memories are made. Even an investment property can have a profound effect on your life’s story when chosen correctly, it becomes long-term financial freedom, can build generational wealth, and is a vital part of a well-diversified portfolio. In the present day, more than ever before, home is an essential and safe place in an ever-changing world. Helping clients achieve their goals of homeownership, searching for a home that’s just right, or helping clients move on from a home that no longer serves them is what drives Jamie in her real estate career.